What Lisa Watched Last Night #171: Ten: Murder Island (dir by Chris Robert)


Last night, Drink Slay Love was not the only Lifetime premiere that I watched.  I also watched Ten Murder Island!

Why Was I Watching It?

The obvious answer, of course, is that it was on Lifetime and, whenever I review a Lifetime film, this site gets an upsurge in clicks.

But, beyond that, I liked the commercials for Ten: Murder Island.  They looked moody and atmospheric.  When I read that the movie was about ten people being stalked and murdered on an island, I immediately was reminded of Harper Island, a.k.a. the scariest TV show ever.  How could I not watch, right?

What Was It About?

Ten teenagers have gathered at a house that’s located on an isolated island.  They’re throwing a weekend party but a storm not only knocks out all the power but also everyone’s phone signal.  Add to that, someone on the island is killing everyone, one by one.  Uh-oh!

Why are they being targeted?  Does it have anything to do with Claire Hicks, an unpopular student who committed suicide shortly after homecoming?  Considering that pages ripped from her journal keep appearing at every murder scene, that would seem to be a safe bet.  Will the smart and studious (and kinda boring) Meg (China Anne McClain) be able to figure out what’s happening before everyone’s dead?  And will her pseudo-boyfriend TJ (Rome Flynn) ever come clean about what happened at homecoming?

What Worked?

Both the house and the island were well-chosen locations and, visually, the film had a memorably spooky atmosphere.  If nothing else, while you were watching Ten, you were convinced that anyone could die at any moment.  No one seemed to be safe.  The deaths themselves were, for a Lifetime film, surprisingly graphic and rather mean-spirited.  This killer wasn’t missing around.

I especially liked the flashback scenes that accompanied the reading of Claire’s journals.  They were well-handled, with everyone’s face literally scratched out and obscured, keeping you guessing as to who Claire was writing about.

What Did Not Work?

As I watched Ten: Murder Island, I couldn’t help but be bothered by the fact that no one on the island really seemed to be that upset by the fact that all of their friends were being brutally and gruesomely murderer.  Meg and TJ would get upset whenever they stumbled across a body but, in the very next scene, they would be laughing and flirting and teasing each other about homecoming.

This movie also featured a truly cringeworthy line that was uttered right after Meg learned the terrible truth about what happened at homecoming.  After learning about a truly terrible thing that happened, Meg turns to TJ and exclaims, in all sincerity, “I didn’t realize I meant that much to you!”  Now, I can’t say too much without spoiling the movie but, just to indicate how inappropriate this response felt, this is what I tweeted as soon as I heard the line:

I mean, it’s generally accepted that the majority of characters in a movie like this are going to be douchebags but Ten: Murder Island really abused the privilege.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I totally related to Kumiko (Annie Q), who was the sarcastic girl who had no hesitation about accusing Meg of being a murderer and who seemed to be more annoyed than terrified by the all the lethal drama going on around her.

Lessons Learned

There’s only one Harper’s Island.

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What Lisa Watched Last Night #170: Drink Slay Love (dir by Vanessa Parise)


Last night, I watched a new Lifetime film, Drink Slay Love!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was on Lifetime, of course!

Plus, it was a Canadian film about vampires.  I love Canada and I love vampires!  Ever since that episode of Degrassi where Emma got a “social disease” while playing Mina in a school production of Dracula, Canada and vampires have mixed well.

(Now, I should admit, that, while watching Drink Slay Love, I was also watching a film called The Dead Don’t Die on YouTube.  I’m a big believer in multitasking.)

What Was It About?

Pearl (Cierra Ramirez) has a life that most of us can only have erotically-themed nightmares about.  She’s a sixteen year-old vampire princess.  She’s headstrong.  She’s a little bit bratty.  She’s convinced that nothing can hurt her.  Even after she’s the victim of an attempted staking, she still insists on going out in the middle of the night by herself.  On the plus side, Pearl doesn’t attack animals.  She only attacks humans, especially Brad, the poor guy who works at a 24 hour ice cream parlor and who never remembers Pearl’s nightly visits, in which she always gets a scoop of mint ice cream and a pint of blood.

However, everything changes when it’s discovered that Pearl is immune to sunlight!  She is a rare vampire who can actually walk around in the daylight.  This leads to her parents getting the brilliant idea of sending Pearl to high school.  There’s a big feast coming up and apparently, teenage blood is in high demand.  However, once Pearl arrives at the school, she starts to make friends, almost despite herself.  She starts to do the type of things that teenagers in Lifetime movies always do.  How can she set her new friends up to be the main course?

Of course, some of her new friends have secrets of their own.  You know how that goes…

What Worked?

This was a nice change of pace for Lifetime.  After endless movies about obsessive stalkers and stolen babies and bad celebrity lookalikes, it was nice to see something different on Lifetime.  I’m going to guess that Drink Slay Love was made with October in mind and really, this is a good movie for people who want celebrate Halloween without getting traumatized.  It’s not particularly scary but it’s got vampires and it’s enjoyably silly.

Cierra Ramirez did a good job as Pearl.  Pearl is a very sardonic vampire, which is the best type of vampire to be.  Ramirez delivered her sarcastic dialogue with just the right amount of bite.  (Heh heh, see what I did there?)

If the director’s name seems familiar, that’s because Vanessa Parise has directed several Lifetime movies.  She does a good job with Drink Slay Love, keeping the story moving at a good pace and getting good performances from the entire cast.

What Did Not Work?

To be honest, I liked the whole film.  Even the occasionally sketchy CGI added to the film’s charm.

“Oh my God!  Just like me moments!”

I related to Pearl.  Well, I didn’t necessarily relate to the blood sucking.  But I was really sarcastic when I was sixteen, too.  Plus, I always used to dress in black and then dare anyone to make a comment about it… (Actually, not that much has changed since then…)

Lessons Learned

Canada and Vampires are a good combination!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #169: My Baby Is Gone! (dir by Steve Bacic)


Last Monday, I watched the Lifetime premiere movie, My Baby Is Gone!  I should have reviewed it on Tuesday but, to be honest, I spent all of last week trying to figure out if Carrie was actually Laura Palmer and if Dale Cooper ever actually escaped the Black Lodge or not.  So, this review is a week late and for that, I apologize even though I think anyone who would require an apology is kind of a jerk.

Why Was I Watching It?

Seriously, what’s been going on with Lifetime lately?  It used to be that every Saturday night saw the premiere of a new Lifetime film.  Live tweeters across the country would look forward to every new Lifetime film.  We transformed several of those films into trending topics.  We did our part.

But, for some reason, this year has seen a different Lifetime.  More often than not, Lifetime airs an old movie on Saturday and saves the premiere for Sunday.  Sorry, Lifetime.  I love you but if I have to choose between a new movie and Twin Peaks, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Deuce, Big Brother, and almost everything else that I can watch on Sunday night, anything that Lifetime premieres on Sunday is probably going to end up sitting on my DVR for a while before I actually watch it.

However, My Baby is Gone! did not premiere on Sunday.  It premiered on Labor Day, so, for the first time in what seemed like forever, I was actually able to watch and live tweet the movie as it aired.  Seriously, Lifetime, get it together.  Nobody wants to watch a Lifetime premiere on Sunday.

What Was It About?

Emily (Elisabeth Harnois) is 8 months pregnant.  Her husband (Ryan S Williams) seems to be a good guy but he works too hard and sometimes, he misses Emily’s checkups.  Her best friend (Nicole LaPlaca) is supportive but she also works with Emily’s husband so, of course, it’s reasonable to assume that they’re probably sleeping together.  This is a Lifetime movie, after all.  After you’ve seen enough Lifetime movies, you know there’s no way that men and women can ever just be co-workers.

(Unless, of course, they’re cops.  In that case, they’re just ineffectual and inevitably end up arresting the wrong person.)

Luckily, someone new has moved in across the street!  Kelly (Anna van Hooft) is super-friendly and helpful and — oh my God! — she’s eight months pregnant too!  Kelly says that she’s just staying in the house until her aunt returns.  What no one knows, of course, is that Kelly’s actually got her aunt tied up in the basement.

Oh, and it turns out that Kelly isn’t really pregnant, either.  She’s just wearing a fake belly.  It’s actually kind of obvious but, at first, everyone just takes Kelly at her word.

Soon, Kelly is drawing Emily away from her husband and her best friend.  She even convinces Emily to decorate the nursery with flamingos instead of butterflies!

What could Kelly’s nefarious plan be?

What Worked?

Uhmm… I’m thinking about it…

Actually, I had a lot of fun live tweeting this film.  My Baby is Gone! is one of those movies that literally brings out the best in a snarky audience.  There’s just so many implausible developments and none of the characters are likely to be mistaken for a member of Mensa.  It’s a fun movie to watch if you’re looking for an excuse to spend two hours wondering how people can be so stupid.

Anna Van Hooft did a great job as Kelly.  If you’re going to play a character who is batshit crazy in a Lifetime film, you might as well go all out.  When you’re in a movie with a title like My Baby is Gone!, the time for subtlety is over.

What Did Not Work?

Even by the standards of Lifetime, the plot was just too implausible to work.  I mean, the whole fake belly thing was a lot more convincing when it used in A Deadly Adoption.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

My favorite character was Pam (Amelia Burstyn), who was Emily’s doctor’s administrative assistant and who showed absolutely no hesitation about sharing the details of another patient’s visit.  It may not have been the best example of professional ethics but sometimes, you have to break the rules.

Lessons Learned

Butterflies are better than flamingos.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #168: A Lover Betrayed (dir by Jeff Hare)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere movie, A Lover Betrayed!

Why Was I Watching It?

Ennui, baby!

Seriously, ennui is the best explanation that I can give you.  For the past two and a half months, my weekend has been about watching the latest episode of Twin Peaks and then trying to figure out what it all meant.  Well, Twin Peaks is over now.  Game of Thrones is over.  The Walking Dead isn’t going to be back for another week or so.   Big Brother is still on but all the other TSL writers got together, took a vote, and banned me from discussing it on this site.

ENNUI!

Plus, A Lover Betrayed was on the Lifetime Movie Network and you know that i can never resist a good Lifetime film.

What Was It About?

It was about a lover who was betrayed.

Oh, you already figured that out just from reading the title?

Okay, more specifically, the lover is Tess (Jamie Luner).  Tess used to be a guidance counselor but then she found out that the principal at her school was a perv.  She got him fired so, of course, he showed up at her house with a gun.  He committed suicide but first, he fired the gun randomly at the ceiling, which led to Tess’s son, Mason, getting killed.

Years later, Tess is an internationally renowned blogger and author, who helps grieving parents deal with the loss of their children.  She is separated from Rodger, who has never emotionally recovered from the death of their son.  At a reading, she meets Conall, a handsome young soldier who says that her blog helped him recover after the death of his father.  Conall and Tess end up sharing one night of passion but, because this is a Lifetime movie, Rodger shows up the very next morning and says that he wants to fix their relationship.

Not surprisingly, Conall turns out to be a bit obsessive but there’s more to it than just the typical Lifetime stalking movie.  There’s all sorts of twists and turns, which I won’t spoil here…

What Worked

I was so proud of myself because, last night, I figured out the movie’s big twist after watching for about 30 minutes.  That doesn’t mean that it’s not a good twist.  It just means that I got lucky.  In fact, I thought it was actually a pretty clever twist and I appreciated the fact that the movie didn’t spring it of nowhere.  The clues were there and, for once, I actually managed to pick up on them.

Lifetime regular Jamie Luner did a good job as Tess.  She’s been in a lot of these movies and obviously knows how to sincerely deliver even the most melodramatic lines of dialogue.

What Did Not Work

Oh my God, this was a dark movie.  For a Lifetime movie, I would actually say that it was a little bit too dark.  Lifetime movies are supposed to be fun but, at times, this one was actually rather depressing.  Even when the movie reached a standard Lifetime conclusion, I was still like, “Damn …. Tess is going to be messed up for a long time….”

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Tess’s sister was a gun-toting badass.  My sister is a gun-toting badass.  Woo hoo!

Lessons Learned

Trust no one!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #167: The Killing Pact (dir by John Lyde)


Last night, I watched The Killing Pact on Lifetime!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was on Lifetime, of course!  Y’all know that I can’t resist a Lifetime movie, especially one that has the word “killing” in the title.  At the very least, I figured The Killing Pact would feature the over the top melodrama and tasteful interior design that we’ve all come to expect from Lifetime movies.

(That said, The Killing Pact was advertised as being a premiere but, actually, it aired on the Lifetime Movie Network last month.  I DVR’d it when it first aired but I hadn’t gotten around to watching it yet.  By watching it on Lifetime last night, I was able to clear a little more space on my DVR.  Yay!)

 What Was It About?

Strangers In An Uber!

Strangers In A Train Without The Train!

Take your pick, they’re both adequate descriptions of what was going on in The Killing Pact.  When Hayley (Emily Rose), a single mother and Uber driver, gives a ride to two weirdos (Melanie Stone and Brandon Ray Olive), she is drawn into an unexpected situation.  It turns out that all three of them have people in their lives that they wish were dead.  So, why not agree to a killing pact?  At first, Hayley thinks it’s all a joke but then her sleazy loser of an ex-husband is brutally murdered.  Hayley’s new friends have kept their end of the bargain.  Now, it’s time for Hayley to do her part…

What Worked?

I liked the look of the film.  Almost every scene was drenched in this moody, overcast atmosphere and, as a result, the film was almost always interesting to look at, even if the plot didn’t always work.  There was one scene — of Hayley pulling up in front of a cheap motel — that I thought was especially well put together.  The dark clouds, the wet pavement, the dilapidated motel — the whole scene was full of menace.

What Did Not Work?

For the most part, this film just didn’t work for me.  At first, I was a little confused as to why the movie was doing so little for me but, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the film just moved way too slowly, especially for a movie that was frequently interrupted by commercials.  The typical Lifetime film has 8 acts.  That means that, over the course of a typical Lifetime movie, there are at least 7 cliffhangers, all designed to make you stick around through the commercials so you can see what happens during the 8th act.  The Killing Pact, however, felt more like a three or four act movie.  There was no forward momentum to hold your interest even through the commercial breaks.  The film’s pacing was definitely off and Lifetime films are all about maintaining a steady pace.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

One of the murders involved an autocratic theater producer.  It reminded me of all the murders that nearly occurred during a community theater production of Little Shop of Horrors that I was once involved with.

Lessons Learned

Pacing is everything!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #166: Daughter For Sale (dir by Farhad Mann)


Last night, I turned on Lifetime and I watched Daughter for Sale!

Why Was I Watching It?

Well, the main reason was because the film was on Lifetime and I always enjoy live tweeting Lifetime films.  There’s a strong community of Lifetime live tweeters.  We all appreciate Canadian location shooting and unapologetic melodrama.

Add to that, Daughter For Sale is a great title.  When you see that a movie is called Daughter for Sale, you really have no choice but to watch.

What Was It About?

Annalise O’Neil (Emily Rose) is a newly appointed judge.  We know this because 50% of her dialogue consists of her telling people, “I’m a judge.”  She also lives in a house that is almost totally made of glass.  Seriously, it’s all windows and there’s no privacy.

Anyway, when the movie starts, she’s celebrating being a judge by throwing a party at her glass house.  When she tells her teenage daughter, Carly (Emily Tennant), to put on a pink dress and come downstairs to the party, Carly responds by cutting the dress into pieces and then sneaking out of the house.  Somehow, nobody notices her running away, despite the fact that the house is almost all window.

Anyway, Carly wanders around Vancouver for a while and then ends up getting kidnapped by a human trafficking ring that is operated by a pretend do-gooder named John Gallant (Antonio Cupo).  Working with a whiny, leather jacket-wearing detective named Derek (Chris Kalhoon), Annalise searches for her missing daughter.  (Her search basically consists of approaching random people and saying, “I’m a judge.”)  Will Annalise and Whiny Detective Man be able to find Carly before she’s sold to the highest bidder?

What Worked?

Particularly for a Lifetime film, Daughter For Sale looked really good.  The shadowy cinematography created the perfect sense of menace.  The warehouse that Carly was kept in was pure nightmare fuel.  We tend to take production design for granted but the people responsible for the look of Daughter for Sale outdid themselves.

Emily Tennant did a pretty good job as Carly. (Remarkably, despite spending about a month in a dirty old warehouse, Carly’s hair and makeup remained perfect throughout the entire movie.)  Antonio Cupo was properly sleazy as the bad guy.  I enjoyed the way the film contrasted Gallant’s public image with the monstrous reality of who he truly was.

What Did Not Work?

“I’m a judge.”  Yes, we know, Analise!  You don’t have to mention it every two minutes!  You being a judge certainly isn’t going to get your daughter out of that warehouse…

This was one of those films where everyone continually switched from being super competent to being super stupid, depending on what was necessary for the scene.  Analise, in particular, was always either a genius or the most naive jurist in history.  Meanwhile, John Gallant was able to run a halfway house, a charity, and an international sex trafficking ring but he wasn’t smart enough to hide the incriminating evidence in his office.  If you’re going to send a thug to beat up a judge, it might be smart to not allow yourself to then be seen, in public, hanging out with the exact same thug.  Or, at least, that’s the way it would seem to me.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

“I’m a judge!”

No, actually, I’m not.  But if I was, I would probably remind everyone every chance I got as well.

Lessons Learned

She’s a judge!

What Else Lisa Watched Last Night #166: Seduced By A Stranger (dir by Scott Belyea)


Secrets of My Stepdaughter was not the only thing that I watched last night!  I also watched Seduced By A Stranger on the Lifetime Movie Network.

Why Was I Watching It?

When a movie is called Seduced By A Stranger, you watch it.  Seduced is one of the most powerful words in the English language.  I even tried to get Arleigh to call this site Through the Seduced Lens but he ended up going with Shattered instead.

(Which is okay because shattered is almost as powerful word as seduced.  Someday, Lifetime will realize that I’m right and commission a film called Shattered Seduction.  I’m already working on the script.)

What Was It About?

It’s about a woman who is seduced by a stranger.

Actually, there’s a little more to it than just that.  In fact, it’s actually a movie about a teenager named Dana (Cate Sproule) and her good-for-nothing (but charming) father named Martin (Steve Bacic).  Because Martin is a professional con man, Dana and Martin have never stayed in one place for too long.  Dana feels like she’s missing out on life.

So, Martin agrees to settle down in a nice little town.  Dana finally gets to enroll in high school.  She even meets a cute boy named Charlie (Madison Smith) and soon, they’re a couple.  However, Martin is also dating Charlie’s mother (Chandra West) and Dana is worried that her father is going to slip back into his old ways.

And, of course, there’s the stalker.  Sloane (Lucie Guest) lost everything to one of Martin’s cons and she’s determined to get her revenge.  Now that Martin has settled down in one place, it looks like she may finally get her chance…

What Worked?

This one was a lot of fun and actually kind of sweet in its own weird way.  Charlie and Dana were a really likable couple and you hoped that things would work out for them.  Both Cate Sproule and Madison Smith gave good performances and it was kind of nice to see a Lifetime film where, for once, the teenagers were alright and the adults were totally clueless.

Lucie Guest did a good job as crazy Sloane.  The best role in any Lifetime film is always the obsessive stalker and Guest really made the most of the opportunity.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked.  It was fun and enjoyable Lifetime film.  The only thing that kept it from being perfect was that there was no kitchen dance party.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

When someone says that Dana has stolen Charlie’s heart, Dana instinctively responds with, “I don’t steal.”  For some reason, I related to that moment.

(I know that’s vague but identifying an “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moment is not an exact science.)

Lessons Learned

Sometimes, being seduced by a stranger is the best thing that can happen to you.